Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sheesh...

Has it really been since Christmas since I posted anything to this blog? Hoo-boy...

Well, it's been an interesting week. Jessi and I both really pigged out over the Christmas weekend... especially the 26th, when we got some real pizza -- three of them, actually, and finished them all off that same day. Well, okay, I ate quite a bit more than Jessi did, I fear... which could explain why I gained more than Jessi did this week.

Work was... different. We had two people out this week, as I probably mentioned before, and I came in at 9 am all week (my usual scheduled start time is 11, but I tend to get in anywhere from 10am to 10:45am most mornings anyway), and still didn't manage to get a full work week in (not too much short, though).

The co-worker whose husband is sick with leukemia came in on Thursday for a short visit... I really feel for her, and definitely understand what she must be going through, having gone through something similar with Barbara (I just hope it ends much better for her and her husband). I suspect that, at least on a subconscious level, I must've relived a few bad memories as a result of all this... and that led to last weekend's overeating. I'm back on track now, though.

Wednesday night, my parents stopped by for a short visit... my brother Karl (who lives with his family in New York) drew Jessi's name for Christmas, and it was Wednesday that the package he sent arrived at my parents' house, and they were nice enough to drive it down. I treated them to a bowl of homemade chili for their trouble.

This weekend, so far, has been fairly uneventful for the most part. Friday, I finally got started on the latest transcription work for the He-Man DVD's (it's a short tape... only about 2 1/2 hours of interviews, and I'm more than halfway through them now). Jessi hasn't been feeling well the past few days, and after Weight Watchers, she did not want to go for our usual walk with the dogs.

Oh, heck, I'm way out of order here with catching both of you regular readers up... Wednesday, Jaeger came to stay with us until Sunday -- you'll recall we watched him for five days a week or two or three back. Jessi was concerned when she planned to take the dogs for a walk that Jaeger wouldn't come for her, and didn't want to risk losing him at the walk, so she only took Krypto and KO with her then.

This morning, after breakfast, the dogs indicated they really, REALLY, needed a walk... so I took them. All three of them. By myself, since Jessi was sick. Our timing was good, however... we arrived at the park just as one of our meet-up owners arrived with his boxer, Hunter. The dogs got a good walk in, and then we headed home so I could get back to work on the transcription job.

During breaks from that, I did a bit of cleaning up, and also did some baking -- after all, it is Krypto's birthday today! He's one year old as I write this! We didn't have everything we needed for the regular birthday cake recipe for dogs, so I did some substitutions here and there, and created something new... and made a cake as well as mini-muffins. The dogs love 'em, so I must've done something right!

We're not doing anything special for New Year's Eve here... unless you count watching the Law & Order: Criminal Intent marathon on USA (which is, I'll admit, pretty special in and of itself, as we love that show)... nor are we doing anything else special today for Krypto's birthday. Tomorrow, however, is the scheduled boxer meet-up, and I'll bring that cake with me to that in case anyone shows up (Paul and Brigit, Claude the white boxer's owners, are out of town this week, and I know Hunter's owner is also out of town tomorrow, so there's a chance nobody will show at all except me -- plus, we changed the time of the meetups a month or so back to 9 am instead of 2 pm -- due to planning conflicts happening all the time -- and those who aren't part of the meet-up mailing list probably won't know about it. I plan to make a second appearance at 2 in case anyone shows up then).

We may have a few more Law & Order eps to watch tomorrow -- our new Digital Video Recorder will no doubt record eps we didn't get to see today, after all.

In other news... well, I can't think of any other news right now! I still hope to do that Iron Man review based on Essential Iron Man soon, and still have some eBay auctions left (not many JLU figures left to sell, there's one bid on the Thunder Agents portfolio, and nothing on the others or the TPBs... oh, and there's some cloisonne pins of Popeye, Thor and the Human Torch up for grabs, too), which I'm hoping a few more Buy It Now's will happen to help bolster my minimal available funds, so that I can do supplmental grocery shopping (why did I have to be so generous with last-minute Christmas shopping?).

Also, if you're looking for a "Year in Review" piece from me here... you won't find it. Maybe I'll do one next year, but for now, there are many others who are probably posting much better ones than I could manage right now!

Happy New Year!

Jon

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Recent Reading...

Yeah, as you'll see as you scroll down, I'm posting a lot of stuff tonight.

Anyway... my current re-reading is ESSENTIAL IRON MAN VOL. 1. It's funny, I've read this at least once before, but there are things that I'm noticing I didn't notice before... and there are thoughts I'm having that hadn't been thought before.

So... I'm thinking that once I finish reading Vol. 1, I may scan some selected panels and do a post -- or series of posts -- examining these earliest of Iron Man stories... and I hope you'll find my thoughts of interest!

Jon

THUNDER Agents Portfolio by George Tuska!

OK, I'll admit it... I've been a THUNDER Agents fan for a long time... at least since the 1980s, if not earlier, thanks to being exposed to them through the RBCC and other publications. I bought pretty much all the revivals that were done, and enjoyed some of 'em more than others, but I always found myself enjoying the original stories more.

It may surprise you to know that the only Archives I possess at this time are two of the THUNDER Agents volumes.

Anyway... some time ago, I picked up a copy of the THUNDER Agents portfolio done by George Tuska. I know I used to have the second portfolio, but I must've sold it a long time back, because I sure can't find it now!

I've been a fan of Tuska's work even longer, I think, than I've been of the Agents. There's just something about his style that's always appealed to me -- and that fact that he draws sexy babes might have something to do with it, too! For the life of me, I don't know why he never received the credit or acclaim I think he should have... did he have problems meeting deadlines that would've kept him on a regular title or something?

Anyway... here's the first plate of the THUNDER Agents portfolio, and this was also the only image you could see when looking at it in the plastic bag it was sold in:

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It's a nice piece of art, but not the greatest... a more full-fledged battle piece might've worked better... heck, at least give NoMan something to do than just be in the foreground!

Now, for the rest of these, I'm pretty much guessing what order they're supposed to be in... this, at least, is the order one finds them in my set. So here's plate #2!

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This plate, obviously, focuses on Kitten, one of the THUNDER Squad. Oh, heck, you know, some of you may not even know anything about the Agents... so let me give you a quick rundown, okay?

THUNDER stands for The Higher United Nations Defense and Espionage Reserves. This professor-type created several powerful gadgets which are used by the agents... Dynamo wears a belt that, when activated, gives him superstrength and limited invulnerability. Lightning has a disc that, when activated, gives him superspeed (but shortens his life every time he uses it). NoMan wears a cape which makes him invisible -- on top of that, he's an android -- or rather, the life force of a man in an android, and who can transfer that life force into a number of android duplicates, one at a time. There's also Raven, who wears wings that allows him to fly, and Menthor, whose helmet gives him ESP powers.

The THUNDER Squad was a trio of agents who didn't have any powers, and the only two I can recall by name are Kitten, the babe in the above plate, and Weed, who I always felt was Wally Wood, creator of the Agents, putting himself in the story. Dynamo's real name, by the way, was Len Brown -- which was also the name of the guy who wrote some (at least) of Dynamo's stories!

The Agents were created in the 1960s, and were published by Tower Comics in extra-thick comics selling originally for a quarter... there was the THUNDER Agents book itself, plus solo books featuring Dynamo and NoMan (at least), plus also the Undersea Agent, who had the most tenuous link to the group, so far as I'm aware.

The books didn't do all that well originally (I'm guessing spotty distribution, plus the fact that they were priced differently from other books, causing confusion at cash registers, plus coming out in a saturated market at the time were all factors in the series demise), but they're prized collectors' items today... and obviously, interest in them is still high!

OK, here's plate 3:

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That's Dynamo busting in to save Kitten from the claws of The Iron Maiden, also known affectionately as "Rusty." The Maiden was a bad girl, but she had the hots for Dynamo, and the feeling was mutual! But so long as she stayed on the side of evil, nothing would come of their relationship -- but it did help Dynamo escape certain death a few times.

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The above is plate 4, another shot of the Maiden... and if you think she's sexy when Tuska drew her, you oughtta see a Wood illustration!

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Plate 5, above, shows the mutual lusting Dynamo and Rusty had...

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Plate six shows a group shot... Menthor is the guy with the "O" on his head... and I have no idea why he's in this group shot, but Raven isn't... Menthor was one of the latter-introduced agents.

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And here's plate 7... with Lightning rescuing Kitten (she sure got in trouble a lot, didn't she?).

Why weren't there any solo plates of NoMan, or Menthor? Why was Raven ignored entirely? Well... I'm guessing that even in the early 1980s, when this was published, it was still realized that hot babes sell product.

Why did I decide to scan these in? Well, I'd put up this portfolio for sale on eBay, and wanted to have the scans to remember them by if it sold. I ran the auction twice with no results, but sales slowed down so much just before Christmas, I think I'll relist them again... but haven't done so as of this writing! Don't worry, I'll let you know when this and other auctions are relisted!

Jon

Christmas Wrap-Up 2005

OK, so Christmas is pretty much over here... and I figured I'd do a (hopefully) short wrap-up of events...

Jessi was the big winner here, present-wise, as (and I think I've said this before) when we first got Krypto, she paid half of the cost, and I said that would cover her through the end of the year for birthday and Christmas presents. Since my family did a drawing this year, so we each bought for one other family member, I received one Christmas present this year, and that was a new sweater from my dad (it's a nice sweater, I plan to wear it tuesday when I go back to work).

Jessi got lots of fun stuff from me... inline skates, Friends Season 10 on DVD, the Friends version of Scene It, Shrek on DVD, and a few other odds and ends (what can I say, I'm generous to a fault). I know she's had some pretty crappy Christmases in her past, and I suppose this is my way of trying to make up for that to her.

Oh, did I say I only had one Christmas present? Well, I guess I should also say I got a nice one for myself, which we'd been paying for all year.... and that would be my weight loss! To give you an idea of what it's been like, here's a photo of Jessi and I taken at my parents' house on Christmas 2004:

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Here's the one that was taken earlier today, Christmas 2005:

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Is that a transformation or what? It's really hard for me to realize how much of a difference it's been sometimes... heck, the only thing I'm wearing in the first photo I can still wear today are the shoes and socks -- and to be honest, the shoes are feeling a little loose lately, too!

I think I'll have to print those pics out side-by-side to bring to this weekend's Weight Watchers meeting.

Eating-wise... despite how good we're looking there... well, Jessi's been saying lately, "It's not what you eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's what you eat between Christmas and Thanksgiving." And we've been kind of pigging out a bit this weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if I have a gain this week.

Christmas Eve, we were just relaxing, it was too early for me to make the Papa Murphy's Thin Crust Delite pizza I'd bought for our Christmas Eve dinner, when Jessi asked if we had the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. After a bit of discussion, I got her to agree that if we wanted CC cookies, we'd just get the refrigerated cookie dough and make those -- I figured we'd have less cookies that way than if we made a regular batch. We got two different kinds... regular chocolate chip cookies, and ones with peanut butter cups. We baked them all before I baked the pizza...

...and as of now, so far as I know, there are only five chocolate chip cookies left. Yep, we ate all of 'em. And then we had Christmas dinner at my parents' house, and ate salted nuts, peanut M&M's, and I had a few pieces of Almond Roca.

Not good... so we'll be going back to our healthy eating with a vengeance the rest of the week!

Snow Dogs

The snow is gone now, but I remembered I'd promised to show you guys pictures of Krypto and KO playing in the snow a week or more back... so here they are!

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As you can see, they had a lot of fun...

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And it was difficult to get good shots of them with my digital...

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Even when they were staying put, I could rarely get a decent angle on them...

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But they had fun chasing snowballs I threw out into the back yard.

And just to make sure you know which is which... this one is KO:

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And this one is Krypto!

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Jon

Happy Holidays!

Yeah, I know it's at the tail-end of the holiday, but the wish is still true...

Happy Holidays